By Karen O’Connor:
Last week I hiked with a group of women friends along the coastline in Santa Cruz, California from Lighthouse Field to Natural Bridges State Park. It didn’t take long for me to realize that finding God on a hike happens whether you’re thinking about it or not. It would have been impossible to look at the waves crashing on the rocks, or the surfers trying to ride them, or the dogs and children frolicking on the beach––even in January––without seeing the gracious hand of God everywhere.
Sunshine overhead, mountain peaks in the distance, abundant foliage within reach, and graceful Cypress trees bending in the wind all spoke to me of our Creator. When you feel low, overwhelmed, confused, or dismayed about life, there is nothing like a good long walk or a hike in the snow or in the grassy fields, to set your mind at rest and your heart at peace.
Everybody needs beauty as well as bread, places to play in and pray in, where nature may heal and give strength to body and soul. John Muir, Scottish-born American naturalist, author, and early advocate of the preservation of wilderness in the United States.
I returned home refreshed and renewed, ready to take up my responsibilities again. At bedtime as I mulled over the many gifts of God that day I was humbled by his awesome power and his abundant grace. And I didn’t have to pay a dime or a dollar to enjoy this fruit of his hand. I just had to show up, pay attention, and put one foot in front of the other. Finding God on a hike is something I plan to do every week from now on.
View this inspiring video about a couple who hiked to the top of Mount Whitney—the highest peak in the contiguous United States.
Karen O’Connor is an author, writing mentor, and an avid hiker. Her greatest accomplishment in the wilderness is hiking to the top of Mount Whitney with three women friends and making it back to tell about it! Find Karen on the web at www.karenoconnor.com